May 2, 2019

Being vs. becoming



Twice in conversations with a client, she's told me, "I'm not a writer." And yet, she is a writer, because she writes!

Perhaps I'm oversimplifying a bit, because I suppose there's a difference between someone who writes all the time and enjoys it (whether or not they receive income from it), and a person who writes sometimes and finds it a struggle.

So, with this in mind, that there is a certain mental "picture" she might have about what a writer is, and a story she's telling herself about herself, I suggested she change the story to "I'm becoming a writer."

Because while it might be true that she doesn't fit her mental picture of what a writer is, it's also true that the more she writes, the more she becomes a writer.

I often hear from my clients and colleagues that they're "not speakers." And yet, they stand in front of audiences or classrooms or conference room tables and they speak, teach, train, inform, educate, persuade and inspire.

Does someone have to get paid for speaking to call themselves a speaker? Nope.

Does someone have to give formal speeches to call themselves a speaker? Nope. 

Do other people need to believe you're a speaker for you to believe you're a speaker? NOPE!

If you give presentations as part of your job; if your business requires you to teach something to people in groups; if you give regular reports or deliver information to groups of colleagues, clients, community members or other stakeholders... you're a speaker!

Maybe you only speak sometimes and you find it a struggle, like my client mentioned about her writing. You have the power to change the story you tell yourself. 

Are you a speaker? Maybe you're not quite mentally there yet. Are you becoming a speaker? Try that story on for size and see how it feels.

P.S. If you'd like some support in making that mental shift to start becoming the speaker you're meant to be, Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a free, no-pressure conversation to explore your speaking needs!

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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

April 11, 2019

Speaking tips from "Serial"



I finally got around to finishing the original season of the podcast "Serial," in which the case of convicted murder Adnan Syed is re-evaluated in detail by investigative journalist Sarah Koenig.

I had listened to the first four episodes on a road trip last year, but never picked it up again. As I've been driving back and forth to Sacramento regularly for two months (a 6-hour drive), I decided to give investigative reporting podcasts another look, and finally finished "Serial."

Syed's defense attorney was a woman named Cristina Gutierrez (now deceased), who was known at the time as a "pitbull on the pant leg of justice." A tireless advocate for her clients, she went above and beyond to defend their cases.

This description of Gutierrez by Sarah Koenig really stood out to me.

"She did the first, or at least one of the first, DNA cases in Maryland. 

To figure out how to explain it to a jury, I heard a story that she went to a grade school and practiced. Each time a kid said he or she didn’t understand the science, she started over."

Let's be honest: How many of you work this hard to make sure your topic and concepts are understood by your audience? And when you're in the room with your audience, are you reading their reactions to see if they're with you, or do you just blow through your content, unaware of whether your audience is following along?

I work with a lot of clients who speak and train on complex topics. Over the years, my clients' topics have included companion diagnostics, affect regulation, Six Sigma certification, private capital markets, securities fraud (from the mouth of the felon himself!), the Affordable Care Act, and structured empowerment, none of which were familiar to me when I started working with the client.

One of my gifts is to help my clients make a topic I know nothing about understandable to a lay audience! However, some people hear "dumb it down" when I say "simplify." But these are two different things.

Simplifying means using plain English instead of jargon and acronyms. It means understanding where your audience is coming from and describing terms in ways that relate to what they already know about the world. It means using clear examples and analogies.

There's a reason a "pie chart" is called a "pie chart:" pretty much everyone in the world can envision cutting a pie into slices! This is not a "dumbed down" explanation of a pie chart, but rather a simplified explanation.

"Dumbing down" implies just that: your audience is dumb. It really comes from a place of disrespect. Whereas simplifying comes from a place of respecting your audience and figuring out what they need in order to navigate your possibly-complex topic.

Cristina Gutierrez practiced her explanation of DNA on children, but that doesn't mean she spoke to jurors like children! It means she boiled down the topic to its simplest components and then delivered that to intelligent adults in a way that made sense to them.

How can you simplify your concepts so that your audience really grasps what you're saying and can apply it to their own lives? If your audience is able to take action on what they've learned—and especially if they're able to explain it to someone else after hearing your presentation—then you're on the right track!

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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

April 8, 2019

Get your free copy of Presenting for Humans before April 15



Hey y'all! I'm giving away 100 digital copies of Presenting for Humans: Insights for Speakers on Ditching Perfection and Creating Connection!

I'm celebrating the second anniversary of publishing my first book on April 14 and I want you to have a copy! The giveaway started today and 51 copies are already gone, so if you're a Goodreads member, get over there ASAP to reserve your free digital download.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Get your free copy of Presenting for Humans!

Presenting for Humans

by Lisa Braithwaite

Get your free copy of Presenting for Humans! Giveaway ends April 15.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway


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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

February 23, 2019

Learning is not a one-way street



I frequently hear colleagues and friends complain about all the money they’ve spent on coaching or training with disappointing results.

Literally never have I heard someone complain about all the work and effort they put into coaching or training, with disappointing results.

I’m going to flip our usual conversation on its head and instead of talking about your job as the one providing service, I’m going to talk about your job as the one receiving service. 

Whether you’re the training attendee or the coachee, you have responsibilities. 

Have you ever had those audience members who seem like they would rather be elsewhere? The audience members who don’t participate, who look annoyed, who spend all their time looking at their phone? Or worse, the audience member who’s constantly interrupting or trying to impress everyone with how much smarter they are than you?

Have you ever BEEN this audience member?

If we want “good” audiences (ask great questions, participate in exercises, express interest, stay awake), perhaps we should start with modeling good behavior ourselves as audience members. I often remind my audiences and my coaching clients that they get out of the relationship what they put into it. 

As speakers, we can’t expect to just pour knowledge into an audience of empty vessels. That’s not how it works. And as audience members, we can’t expect to sit back and have knowledge poured into us. 

Have you had a coaching client who wasn’t open to trying new things, who was unwilling to take risks and get outside of their comfort zone? Have you had a client unwilling to question their own current beliefs and practices, or unwilling to do work outside of the coaching sessions? 

I occasionally have a coaching client who expects me to hand him all the tools he needs on a silver platter. Instead of doing the work and pushing himself into new territory, he makes excuses about why he “can’t” do this thing or that thing. Or s/he comes to me with a last-minute event to prepare for and expects miracles.

Have you ever BEEN this coaching client?

Of course, coaching is a delicate process. It’s not easy to be comfortable with discomfort. I acknowledge those who come forward for coaching to improve their speaking skills and confidence, because it’s not an easy road.

But a coaching client or an audience member cannot just sit back and be a passive observer of the process.

The audience member or client cannot just “take” from the process and not “give.” This is a sure path to disappointment.

As an audience member, as a coaching client, you have a job to do as well! Spending the time, effort and energy (not just the money) to do your part contributes to a successful outcome for both the participant and the teacher.

It’s actually pretty easy to type your credit card number into an online order form or click that payment button in PayPal. That’s not the real work. And no one is going to unscrew your head and dump in a bunch of knowledge.

Pay attention to how you approach learning opportunities. Be honest with yourself.

It’s possible that these opportunities haven’t worked for you in the past because you were not fully committed or open to taking responsibility for the goals, focus, tasks, reflection, timelines, preparation, emotional exploration, and growth mindset necessary for a successful coaching or training process.


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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

December 29, 2018

Are you confident or complacent?



We all strive to be confident speakers; it's a standard by which we judge our own levels of experience and practice.

However, it's possible to be too confident, to become complacent over time about our own skills and abilities.

I made this short video to encourage you to look at where you might be resting on your laurels just a bit too much, to look at where it might benefit you to get out of your comfort zone and look honestly at where you could improve.

A new year is upon us, and many of us use these time markers as starting points to refresh our skills and habits. Is 2019 the year when you'll decide to take your speaking to the next level?

https://youtu.be/zFcOeh1zbRE

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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

December 2, 2018

Four reasons to stop using PowerPoint



Many of my speaker colleagues reject the use of slides. They say slides are boring, prevent engagement, and distract the audience away from the speaker's message. And yep, they do. Especially when they look like this:


or this:


are loaded with cliches like this: 


or packed with bullets like this:


or when the presenter looks like this:


or when your images look like this:



So here are four reasons to stop using slides:

1. If you're still living in the 90s, using crap clip art and cartoons, please don't inflict your slides on audiences.

2. If you insist on listing everything you know about your topic in the form of bullet points or complex charts and graphs, please don't inflict your slides on audiences.

3. If you face the screen the whole time, reading from your slides so that you don't have to learn your content or interact, please don't inflict your slides on audiences.

4. If you're unwilling to learn and use best practices for visuals, like cutting down on text and complex graphs, using more images, and letting slides be the background and enhancement to your presentation, please don't inflict your slides on audiences.

For the rest of you who are challenging the old ways of "death by PowerPoint," carry on

Personally, I love PowerPoint. I have lots of fun creating slides that will illustrate my points and entertain my audiences. Slides can be part of an engaging, fun and creative presentation. PowerPoint doesn't force anyone to use bullets or to be boring.

And one final slide for you:


P.S. If you'd like a quick lesson in PowerPoint best practices, check out my virtual training here!


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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

October 16, 2018

Your voice matters




You're probably hearing a lot right now about using your voice. With elections coming up, it's important to be reminded that our voices—via our votes—really do make a difference. I know... sometimes it doesn't feel that way. Sometimes we feel small, we feel powerless, and we feel disheartened.

But those aren't good enough reasons not to vote!

Now, how about your actual voice? What are you dying to express? What do you have to say that will make a difference in the world if only enough people hear you?

Do you have a cause that you fiercely believe in, that you're passionate about, that needs more visibility and attention?

Does your business do transformational work and you're looking for the right words to express what you do?

Are you tired of playing it safe, holding yourself back, retreating from the limelight, instead of advancing the conversation about your cause and forging ahead?

I have so many speaking and coaching colleagues who long to be real, to share their passions and to speak up about their core beliefs and convictions.

But they're afraid. They're afraid that being real and speaking out about injustice, oppression and discrimination (for example) will hurt their businesses. They fear alienating potential clients and customers. They don't want to hurt their friends and families' feelings with their opinions.

Maybe this sounds like you. Well, hear this: Your voice matters.

There are people who need to hear you. There are people who will be influenced by your ideas, people whose attitudes or behaviors will not change until they hear YOU.

I know it sounds crazy to think that there are people out there who are waiting just for what you have to say, but it's true. How do I know this? Because every single person who chooses to be heard and seen, believed and trusted, has influenced someone. Just look around you.

You've got the secret sauce, so what's it going to take to break down the barriers that you've created for yourself? Because you're the only one standing in the way of YOU.

Yep, sometimes you feel small, you feel powerless, and you feel disheartened.

Those aren't good enough reasons to keep your mouth shut.

Share your story. Write your manifesto. Submit that speaking proposal. Upload that article. Get your thoughts and opinions out there. Yes, on social media, too. Now is the time. Your audience is waiting.

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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

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